Reviews written by registered user
|17 reviews in total|
The single greatest piece of pure popcorn entertainment I have ever
laid eyes on. Would I have loved it as much watching it alone on DVD?
Probably not. The theatre experience is what made the movie so great:
hooting and hollering as SLJ kills snakes left, right and center;
hissing at the screen in anticipation of snakes to come... It was just
Some of the acting is so bad that it's great (the Asian guy playing the crime lord had the theatre in hysterics), but there are some pitch-perfect performances to be found here: Jackson (obviously) does his thing and will likely be remembered forever for this role; David Koechner has some great lines, just having fun with the smarmy pilot persona. Best of all is Todd Louiso as a "snake expert" on the ground, doing his best to guide Sam up in the air. Like the movie itself, he takes himself seriously to a point, but lets loose on lines like "Time is tissue!" and "There's only one man who could amass a collection of illegal snakes like this. He lives...in the desert."
The effects are mostly pretty obvious, but it doesn't effect the movie at all -- some of the attacks really are shocking and scary; many of the death scenes are unforgettable, either because they're incredibly hilarious, or nauseatingly horrific. When the movie earns its R-rating it's at its best: the inevitable sequel will likely be even better, as they'll be shooting for R all along.
Even if you think it will be stupid, I urge you to see this movie. I expected it to be either a wretched turd or an all-time classic, and was blown away. Flat-out, the movie delivers. It's miles better than it has any business being, and is one of the greatest thrill-rides of all time.
Starring: Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson, Ron Perlman
Last time we saw Blade, Wesley Snipes's half-breed vampire slayer, his hunting operation had been heavily compromised. His warehouse headquarters had been rushed, his mentor Whistler (Kristofferson) had shot himself to prevent imminent bitings -- no matter, he prevailed, he got his man. In these movies, they always do.
Flash-forward a few years later and Whistler is not dead. The vamps have turned him and kept him alive, so they can torture him for all eternity. Blade tracks him down, busts some heads, turns him back and we're back to square one. Of course, the film is not content with closing the curtain at the half-hour mark, so now the story can really begin: The warehouse complex finds itself blitzed again, this time by a pair of super-stealth special-ops vampires dressed in jet-black spy-gear -- one of them a skilled swordsman, the other our leading lady. Blade intercepts and they kung-fu fight. Turns out the battle, flashy and entertaining as it was, was all for naught -- the vampires, members of an elite vamp-squad called the Bloodpack, have come to make a peace offering on behalf of the Vampire Nation. You see, there's a new threat stalking them -- bigger and badder than Blade: Reapers, vicious vampire hybrids whose scarred faces mask their horrific weapons. The vamps don't just want a truce with Blade, however -- they want him to fight the Reapers with them. He faces a dilemma: do nothing and let the Reapers move on to humans once they're finished with vampires, or help the vampires, only to have them try to kill him when the job's finished. If you can't tell which way he finally leans, you've never seen an action movie.
I liked the first Blade film if slightly. It was a fun movie with some very cool moments, but didn't live up to the hype. The third, 'Trinity' is a mind-numbing disaster. Oh the difference a good director can make! Guillermo del Toro (Cronos, Hellboy) has the reigns here and clearly had a good time with the movie: it briskly bounces from one energetic action sequence to the next, with a fair number of frightful sights thrown in to liven things up. This is a good thing -- with a wafer-thin plot that takes enough turns to keep your attention, Del Toro knows exactly what kind of movie he's making: a pure action flick. And he delivers the goods. The movie is dripping with cool, and while it may not be a classic, it's a fun flick to throw on and let it suck you in.
FINAL SCORE: 8.3/10
If you've never seen a Blade movie before, no worries. There's not a lot to catch up on, and you can jump straight to the "good chapter" and not miss a beat. If the movie suffers anywhere at all (other than the plot department), it's that the battle sequences occasionally suffer Spider-man Syndrome, wherein the impossible is made possible by some glaringly obvious CGI. Other than that, if action movies are your thing, Blade II is a bloody good show.
Starring: Kevin Bacon, Alison Lohman, Colin Firth
Firth and Bacon play Vince Collins and Lanny Morris, a famous comedic duo, who, in the 1950s, were best known for their work hosting Polio telethons. The schtick was simple: Collins (Firth), British and ever the gentleman, played straightman to Lanny (Bacon), the say-anything womanizer. When a girl they'd "met" winds up dead, the boys find themselves in hot water and the gig is up. The investigation is blown over, the body is cremated, and Morris & Collins call it quits as a duo.
Flash-forward some fifteen years, where aspiring journalist Karen O'Connor (Lohman, a complete dead-ringer for Elisha Cuthbert) has snagged herself a major book deal: Collins will tell-all to her an in exclusive interview that will become an official biography, previewed with a magazine article. If she can get him to open up about "the incident", she's got herself a story. There's a problem, however. Lanny, who wrote all of their material back of the day, plans to write a tell-all book himself. The script exploits the writing angle to use expositive voice-overs, and it works well, perhaps only because Bacon gives his voice a sleezy grit that makes listening to it irresistible.
The first 45mins of the film are completely flawless: terrificly acted, and very stylish, as director Atom Egoyan gives the film a fuzzy look that makes the whole ordeal seem slightly nostalgic. Then things derail a little. That's not to say it collapses, but the script meanders a bit, and didn't hold my interest as well as the opening. It doesn't take things too long to get things back on track, however. What did happen that night with that girl, and why won't anyone talk about it? This is what the movie is really about, and just when you think you know, it flips things on their head.
FINAL SCORE: 8.4/10 = B+
I can recognize this movie isn't for everyone, and you'll probably love it or hate it. But I liked this movie. A lot. Lohman was a little iffy at times, but Firth and Bacon more than made up for her -- plus, she gets naked, and that's always a nice bonus. It was stylish, and its twists actually surprised me. Pure film noir is hard to come by these days, and when it's good, well, what more can you ask for. It's a good little movie that should find an audience on DVD.
Starring: Leslie Nielsen, Priscilla Presley, Ricardo Montalban, O.J.
Lt. Frank Drebin (Nielsen) is a real man's man. He fakes his orgasms, loves a nice stuffed beaver, and laughs through comedies like 'Platoon'. Fresh off of kicking terrorist butt in Beirut, Drebin returns home to an empty apartment and a broken heart. Everywhere he looks, there's something to remind him of his old flame: in the smiling faces of happy couples, or a pair of twin breast-shaped nuclear reactors in San Onofre.
Enter Jane (Presley), the lovely assistant of real estate tycoon Vincent Ludwig (Montalban), and the woman of Frank's dreams. "How 'bout dinner?" he asks her. She can't make it, but offers a rain-check. "Well, lets just stick to dinner," he replies. They hit it off immediately, but Frank's got bigger fish to fry. Queen Elizabeth II is coming to Los Angeles, and it's up to Drebin and Police Squad, an elite unit of the LAPD, to keep her safe. Ludwig is the villain, and the movie makes it no secret -- by the 10min mark, he's already pumped Frank's partner Nordberg (Simpson) full of bullets. Luckily, Nordberg survives, albeit hospitalized and in critical condition. It's up to Frank and Capt. Ed Hocken (George Kennedy) to counsel his crying wife: "I think what Frank's trying to say is, as soon as Nordberg's better, he's welcome back on Police Squad," Ed explains. Drebin interrupts, "Unless he's a drooling vegetable -- but that's just common sense."
If it seems like I'm pumping this review full of quotes, I am. This is one of the funniest movies ever made. I can't count how many times I've seen it, and I die laughing each time. Directed by David Zucker, from a script he co-wrote with his brother Jerry and Jim Abrahams, The Naked Gun is based on a failed TV show the three of them produced for NBC, called 'Police Squad!' That the show was canned after only four episodes seems criminal. The ZAZ Boys, who also masterminded such comedy classics as 'Airplane!' and 'Top Secret!', are gifted comedians with a penchant for exclamation marks. Their gift is in casting accomplished dramatic actors to play everything straight. Kennedy was (and still is) an Academy Award winner; Montalban was one of cinema's great villains, playing opposite William Shatner's James T. Kirk in 'The Wrath of Khan'; Presley had been a prime-time soap star for years. Dead-panned, the words and sight gags speak for themselves -- and they speak volumes. Think I've ruined the best bits? Not even close, and you notice something new every time.
FINAL SCORE: 9.3 = A
The movie lives and dies by Nielsen, and Jacques Clouseau's got nothing on this hard-boiled doofus. Kicked off the force, Drebin bites his lower lip and says, "Just think...the next time I shoot a man, I could be arrested." This is classic comedy through and through.
Starring: Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, Jamie Foxx, Dennis Quaid
Writer-director Oliver Stone leads an all-star cast to an "insider's look" at the world of pro football in this gridiron epic. When accomplished veteran quarterback Jack "Cap" Rooney (Quaid) goes down with a spinal injury, things don't look good for coach Tony D'Amato (Pacino) and his Miami Sharks. Perennial contenders for the fictitious Pantheon Cup, the Sharks have dropped their last three and are in danger of missing the playoffs. Salvation comes in the form of third-string sensation QB "Steamin'" Willie Beamen (Foxx), a rookie whose instant success breeds an instant ego. "I've spent half my career sittin' on the bench," he says. "I don't plan on going back." His attitude begins to tear a rift between the team's stars (including LL Cool J as a superstar runningback who needs more yards to clinch more endorsements) -- after all, there's only one football to go around.
The movie goes beyond the field however, covering the sport from all angles: Owner/GM Christina Pagniacci (Diaz), sick of D'Amato's old school ideologies, sees offensive coordinator Nick Crozier (Aaron Eckhart) as the new face of her team, with Beamen leading the youth movement to take the Sharks back to the Cup. James Woods has a brief but memorable turn as an oily team doctor who clashes with his young assistant (Matthew Modine) over the ethics of sports medicine. John C. McGinley has a great turn as a Jim Rome-esquire journalist, with opinions so scathing that he and D'Amato actually come to blows (afterwards, in one of the movie's many brilliant moments, Tony asks flippantly, "Where's your wheelchair?").
The problem is that the movie stretches too far, and the film suffers from terrible pacing issues. Clocking in at over two and a half hours, the movie drags for the first 60mins before finally finding its feet. The initial game action seems to stretch on forever, with Stone highlighting pass after pass with generic rap music. It's a very trying first hour, but once the movie takes off, it soars. Pacino is fantastic as a man at the end of his rope and his pre-game speech about "inches" is stuff for the history books. Really though, this is Jamie Foxx's movie and he's phenomenal. It's surprising to me that it took five years after this film's release for him to become a star -- he does it all in this movie: he's fierce, funny, and even wrote three songs for the soundtrack.
FINAL SCORE: 7.5 = B-
As a football fan in Vancouver, it's amusing to spot the parallels between Beamen/Rooney and Printers/Dickenson. A few sensationalists at The Province wrote that not even Hollywood could write a better story, but Oliver Stone did. The performances in this movie are all strong, but there are too many of them. Just like the team on screen, there are too many superstars on board, and not enough screen time for all of them. Stone over-extends the film's perspective, and it leaves the film feeling very long at times. Still, when it hits, it's incredible. The chapter-search button was built for movies like this.
Starring: Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman, Jason Robards, Hal Holbrook
Awards: 4 Oscars for Best Supporting Actor (Jason Robards); Best Adapted Screenplay (William Goldman); Best Art Direction; Best Sound (1977) (Nominated for Best Picture)
Opening with a botched break-in attempt at Democratic HQ, this docu-drama tells the story of Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein (Hoffman) and Bob Woodward (Redford)'s attempt to unravel the Watergate mystery. Up against the most powerful (and paranoid) man in the world, it's understandably difficult.
The story is that of history -- everyone knows the basics, and the film does a pretty good job covering the details. It's fairly informative, but there are a few problems. There are times in the film where it becomes difficult to keep track of who's who. There are a lot of names being thrown around; it is a massive conspiracy. But sometimes, it's too much. I spent so long trying to place which name went with which person that I was pulled out of the reality of the film and realized I was watching a movie.
Other than that, there's a lot to like. The expansive cinematography gives us a good concept the scope of what Woodward and Bernstein are undertaking, and the performances give us a good idea of how frustrating and frightful the entire ordeal must have been.
FINAL SCORE: 8.6/10 = A-
The acting here is all excellent, except for maybe Hoffman who seems to be doing his same old thing. Jason Robards is fantastic as Post editor Bill Bradlee -- his ass rides on the story's truth, and his dead-pan intimidation seems both effortlessly forceful and funny. The ending is a bit quick, but the story is a good one. This is a quality film.
Starring: Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Chloë Sevigny, Reese
In 1991, Bret Easton Ellis released his third novel, American Psycho, to a chorus of poor reviews and public uproar. It was a controversial work making a perverse assessment on the state of its times (the late 80s). Its initial publisher, Simon & Schuster, dropped the book just a month before its slated release date. The National Organization of Women threatened to file obscenity lawsuits against the novel, and boycott bookstores carrying it. Ellis's own life was threatened on several occasions. What is surprising then is that it took nearly ten years for it to become a feature film. Even more surprising, that it would eventually be adapted by two women.
That said, Mary Herron, directing from a script she co-wrote with Guinevere Turner, turns in a memorably tense film. From the very first frames of the opening credits, Harron creates great tension as raspberry sauce decorates a dessert, splattering like blood on the white of the plate. Immediately, the tone is set for what's to come.
Patrick Bateman (Bale) is living the American Dream. Or...he should be. He works a high-paying Wall Street job, lives in a pricey uptown apartment, is engaged to a beautiful fiancée (Witherspoon), and is banging her best friend (Samantha Mathis) on the side. The problem? His life is completely empty and soulless. "I have all the characteristics of a human being," he tells us in voice-over, "but not a single clear, identifiable emotion." His co-workers think him a loser, and tell him so to his face -- so forgettable is he, they don't even know they're talking to him. One such co-worker, Paul Allen (Jared Leto) leads a remarkably similar life to Bateman's. The difference is, Allen lives it better. His apartment is nicer, the cases he handles are bigger, his fake "Vice President" business card is glossier. Not to be outdone, Bateman, a man who strives for perfection and power, lashes out at Allen -- not with words, but with an axe to the face. Allen's "sudden disappearance" draws the attention of a private detective (a scene-stealing Dafoe), while Bateman's thirst for bloody mayhem becomes insatiable.
The film holds secrets which I wouldn't dare spoil, and its ending leaves them very open to interpretation. It sticks with you, its ambiguity begging for mental closure. This is a movie worth seeing, for even if you don't like it, there is much left to be discussed.
FINAL SCORE: 8.7 = A-
It seems ironic that Bale would move from Bateman to Batman -- worlds apart, they are held separate by only one letter. Still, Bateman is such an interesting character. Here is a man whose television blares porn as he goes about his business, and slasher flicks as he exercises; who pontificates on the musical strengths of Phil Collins and Huey Lewis while committing brutal murder. Such is the nature of the film: shock and horror, with a side of black comedy. Bale delivers a remarkable performance, and Harron, a brutally mesmerizing masterpiece. I found myself watching much of the film with wide eyes and a hand on my face. Still, I could never quite look away.
So what's 'Waiting...' about? Nothing, really. Monty (Ryan Reynolds)
leads a fresh hire around his new place of work -- Shenaniganz
Restaurant -- showing him the ropes. Meanwhile, Dean (Justin Long)
feels like he's wasting his life away working a dead-end job in a
low-end restaurant franchise. In the background, the rest of the staff
(highlighted by Luis Guzman, Anna Faris, Dane Cook, and the boss, David
Koechner) play it up with some wacky hijinx that are occasionally
laugh-worthy. And that's pretty much it. It follows the staff through
an average day at Shenaniganz, with Dean's "crisis" the main
What's the problem then? 'Waiting...' feels like Amateur Hour at a stand-up comedy club. You laugh, you feel slightly uncomfortable, you groan a few times, and then you laugh hard. For a gross-out comedy, it's really something of a mixed-bag, but when it hits, it hits hard. The only problem is first-time writer-director Rob McKittrick doesn't know when to kill a joke when it's run its course. The same tired routines that barely worked the first time keep getting drawn out further and further. There's definitely some potential here for a great movie, as each cast member gets their own scene to truly shine in. The problem is the script's complete lack of polish, which seems rushed into production before it really had a chance to find its direction.
FINAL SCORE: 6.1 = C
Solid performances from a cast of comic marvels stop this ship from sinking completely. Reynolds is especially outstanding as Monty, and he and Long have pretty good chemistry together. Still, without a script to match their talents, the jokes just aren't there consistently enough. 'Waiting...' had the potential to be something great. It just should have waited a little longer.
The movie, if you can call it that with its meager 65min runtime, opens
with Captain America dropping out of the sky to help the Allied troops
in 1945. Hitler is dead, but the Nazis are launching one last strike --
a nuclear super-weapon aimed straight for American soil. "Wait a
second," you're thinking. "Where did the Nazis get nuclear capability?"
Where else? From aliens.
Yes, that's right. Captain America is kicking Nazi alien ass and we're only 5mins in. He stops the attack, but his body is flung into the ocean (somehow, even though the castle the missile launched out of was very much in-land) and he's frozen in the briny deep for 60 years. Thawed out in 2005, his presence is needed to save the Earth once more. Nick Fury, leader of S.H.I.E.L.D., needs Cap to lead a team of superheroes to stop the aliens once and for all. What exactly the aliens had been doing for 60 years, the movie makes no mention of. They're just back, and out to get capitalists once and for all. The team, titled Project Avenger, is compiled of Cap, Fury, Black Widow, Bruce Banner/Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Giant Man and Wasp. They meet and the social hierarchy is set. What follows is half an hour of nonsense action sequences.
Now you're probably wondering why I would watch this. As Marvel's first animated film, I was curious to see what they would pull off. I've also read a few issues of The Ultimates (the basis of the film), and thought it to be a pretty sweet book. Keep in mind I have a very low quality-standard when it comes to superhero movies -- I enjoyed both Daredevil and Hulk, two films that everyone else seems to hate. That said, let me get down to business: Flat out, this "movie" sucks. It's too violent and over-sexed for kids, and too mind-numbingly stupid for adults. I couldn't really tell you why anything happens, it just does, and at times it's so ridiculous, I laughed out loud.
FINAL SCORE: 3.0 = F
The one saving grace is, the animation is top notch. There are times when some clunky computer-generated sequences get in the way of the hand-drawn stuff, but for the most part, this is a good looking flick. It just lacks any semblance of a workable script. I don't even recommend it to die-hard comic fans; it just sucks, plain and simple. Here's hoping they take more time with the sequel.
In 'American Splendor', Paul Giamatti stars as Harvey Pekar. ...but
Harvey Pekar is also Harvey Pekar. As are several cartoons, voiced by
Giamatti. The movie tells Pekar's life story, showing how he turned his
dead-end life as an everyman file-clerk in Cleveland into one of the
all-time great comic books. "There's me," narrates the real-life Pekar,
as Giamatti wanders up the street, a scowl on his face. "Or at least
the actor who's supposed to be me, even if he doesn't look a thing like
me." The movie seamlessly blends animated versions of Pekar's strips
with interviews from the man himself -- all integrated into the film
starring Giamatti, and Hope Davis as Harvey's wife Joyce. If it sounds
confusing, it's not. What co-directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert
Pulcini have accomplished here is work of purely unique creativity,
like nothing you've ever seen. And it works on every level, as a
documentary, a bio-pic, and a tragicomedy. Is it funny? At times, but
it's hardly a gut-buster. Giamatti plays Harvey as a man completely
self-aware -- he knows the people around him are absurd, and he strikes
a half-grin before saying things, the cogs in his head already working
them into Splendor's next issue. Not to be missed.
FINAL SCORE: 8.8/10 = A-
The movie won the Grand Jury Prize as Best Picture at Sundance 2003, before winning the International Critics Prize at Cannes later that year. And with good reason. Giamatti delivers another knock-out performance, and the movie is a dazzling display of originality. Is it the greatest story ever told? No, but it's truth. And like Harvey is so fond of saying, "Ordinary life is pretty complex stuff."
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